6 Morning Tricks for Instant Energy

I feel lucky to consider myself a morning person, but I admit there are plenty of days when I could use a little oomph in the A.M. to get me going. And since being exhausted and draggy is a recipe for overeating, it’s important to find healthy ways to boost your energy levels so you don’t resort to junk food as a pick-me-up.

I’ve found that these tips help trick my body and mind into feeling more alert; as a bonus, they’re also sure to keep your weight in check too.

1. Pound protein 

Protein helps persuade your brain and stomach that they’re well nourished and satisfied; skimp on it and your hunger might lead you right to a bag of potato chips. In a recent study, volunteers whose daily protein consumption fell below 15 percent of their total calories were far hungrier after breakfast and ate more snacks throughout the day than those whose protein levels exceeded that amount. The extra nibbling put them on track to gain more than two pounds a month had they kept it up. Hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt are great protein-packed breakfast options.

2. Kick off your day with chocolate

Yep, you read that right. A square of dark chocolate has just the right amount of theobromine (a cousin to caffeine) to wake you up but not enough to cause a crash later, says chronic-fatigue specialist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD. It’s also chock-full of antioxidants, may decrease heart attack risk, lifts mood—and tastes delicious. Try it as a midmorning snack!

3. Go ahead—drink more coffee

When was the last time you heard a doctor use the word miracle? There’s no need to give up coffee or feel guilty about drinking it to jump-start your day. Big, important recent studies have linked coffee to tremendous health benefits, including lowering skin cancer risk by 20 percent, stroke by 25 percent, and dying from prostate cancer by 60 percent. Drink it black or with a little skim milk to minimize calories.

4. Rise and shine early

Being a night owl may be bad for your waistline, says sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD. People who stay up late and sleep late—specifically, they get more than half their sleep after 5:30 a.m.—also tend to eat more fast food and consume more of their calories after 8 p.m. than do normal sleepers. In one study, the more that subjects ate after 8 p.m., the higher their body-mass index, even after controlling for other factors. One of the easiest things you can do to improve your weight loss is go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, preferably on the early side.

5. Eat something crunchy

They make your jaw work hard, which can wake up your facial muscles, helping you feel more alert. Munch on an apple with breakfast for an energizing dose of extra fiber.

6. Make the bed

First, this will thwart the temptation to crawl back into it and press snooze. But here’s a little bonus you haven’t thought of: Shaking out the sheets gets your arms moving above your heart, boosting your heart rate and invigorating your body.

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